TITANIC CHRONOLOGY


A

Addison Hart

Guest
And here we have it - another anniversary has come upon us.

God bless,
Addison
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“Though a Mystic Tone You Borrow
I Shall Learn the Truth With Sorrow,
Here Today and Gone To-morrow;
Yes I know —
That is so!”
H.M.S. Pinafore, Act II

Day 1, April 1st, 1912.

Monday, April the 1st, 1912, was a cool, crisp morning. Calm spring breezes gently wafted across the overcast skies above the old Irish shipping city of Belfast. This bustling area of Ulster, having originated as a settlement in the Iron Age, was the industrial center of the entire island, having established close economic ties with Liverpool and Glasgow, and becoming one of the most productive cities in the British Isles. With a population of around 350,000, Belfast had established itself as a great industrial city for its linen factories and its great shipping yards, such as the one from which the giant, hulking form of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic had only recently emerged after the final stages of fitting out.

Later on that cool, gray, seasonal morning, a northwesterly wind was felt to be whipping up and heading up toward the region. As the breezes approached, they gave the atmosphere a distinctly damp feeling, although there would be no rain falling on the city of Belfast that day. It was hoped, however, that this clammy wind would not interfere greatly with the magnanimous event that was scheduled to occur in the docks that morning. The dockyard overseers waited with expectation for the chilly winds, for if the weather would not suddenly become foul they would be able to enjoy a terribly grand Gilded Age gala affair, namely the opening of the sea trials of the R.M.S. Titanic.

The Titanic was the second ship of the old and venerable White Star Line's 'Olympic Class' series of vessels, and she would be making her sea trials that afternoon before heading east to the English port city of Southampton. Purchased by Mr. Thomas H. Ismay in 1868, the White Star was a sailing and steam packet with headquarters in Liverpool. Having been driven to bankruptcy soon before Ismay's arrival on the scene, the company had gone over to this entrepreneur for relatively little - only one thousand pounds. Since then, however, Thomas Ismay, followed by his son Joseph, would build up the White Star Line, officially known as the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company Ltd., into the prosperous firm that it was in 1912.

The Olympic Class steamers displayed perfectly the reasons for the White Star's success. The White Star Line had always prided itself for both the speed and, more importantly, the luxuriousness of their vessels. While the Cunard Line and the various German lines could produce fast and rather luxurious vessels in their own right, the White Star was able to turn out ships that were, in the case of the Olympic Class ships, the finest in the shipping industry, outranking in quality most hotels. These vessels were a series of triplet ships, larger than any vessel that had come before. They were fast in their own right, though not fast enough to win the coveted Blue Ribband prize. However, they were extremely luxurious. Titanic was the larger of the two vessels already finished, though it was the second to be built and launched (it had been launched on the 31st day of May, 1911). It was also, by all standards, the most luxurious. Although the Olympic (Titanic’s older sister) was not as large, it was better advertised, as it was, after all, the first of the three to be completed and launched. But still, the owners of R.M.S. Titanic expected to turn a great profit from this sailing also. In many ways, the Titanic epitomized the Gilded Age. Both were splendid and luxurious for those of class, and both were short lived.

The Titanic was scheduled to start her trials on the River Lagan that morning at precisely 10 o’clock a.m. She was to be occupied and controlled by a skeleton crew of only 79 crewmembers, who had signed on for the voyage on Saturday, March 29th. 41 officers, engineers, and stewards accompanied these trimmers, stokers, and boilermen. At about 9 o’clock a.m., the tugs from Liverpool arrived and started to steam towards Titanic’s berth. They were on hand to assist her at the beginning of her trials. (These tugs had all been products of the Alexandra Towing Company, and several had already encountered this great vessel, having been used to assist her in her launch the year before.) At 10 o'clock, as scheduled, she slipped into the chilly waters of the River Lagan, where she was greeted by the tugs. She was then directed into the Victoria Channel, which was named, of course, after the late Queen of England and Ireland, who had visited Belfast in 1849 and granted it its city status in 1888.

Unfortunately, as the giant vessel steamed for the channel, her crew found that these winds were making things far too difficult to allow the Titanic to do much of anything at all. She was quickly sent back up the River Lagan and to her welcome berth in Belfast, where she would rest for the remainder of the day under the watchful eyes of downcast dockyard overseers. The wind and the narrow confines of the Lagan had proven to be too overwhelming for the new ship, and it was decided to wait for better weather before proceeding with the trials. It would not do, after all, if she were to sustain any amount of damage before she had even made her first Trans-Atlantic crossing. Hopefully, April 2nd would bring better weather conditions.

Engineers and officers alike used the rest of the day to give the ship a final examination. They also took the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the labyrinthine corridors and alleys of the giant vessel. The trimmers, the fireman (as there was at the time only one actual fireman aboard: a Mr. William McQuillan), the officers, able seamen, and the members of the so-called “Black Gang” (the engineers and boilermen) were all paid an extra five shillings for the delay.
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A

Addison Hart

Guest
By the way, this shall be the Titanic Chronology thread for the rest of the posts (14 remain, of course). Feel free to make comments and corrections in this thread also.

God bless,
Addison
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Thanks Addison. The only thing I would be inclined to question here is the oft repeated mantra, one that's been around since 1912, that these vessels were the most luxurious. I would however argue that as evolutionary designs, the Olympics were better balanced then the competition, and far more comfortable. They were grand without being gaudy, and avoided the topweight problems that plagued other liners. I'm sure that passengers with queasy stomachs would have appritiated that.
wink.gif


In fairness however, this is a highly subjective matter of opinion.
 
A

Addison Hart

Guest
True, true. It is, I suppose, a matter of opinion. You are quite right, of course, concerning the matter of balance, as well. Thank heavens for a smooth sailing, what?

By the way, expect the second ghost...very shortly!

God bless,
Addison
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Thank heavens for a smooth sailing, what? <<

Well, it sure helps those with 'weak constitutions' keep their lunch! While Titanic may not have been the *most* luxurious, I prefer to think of these ships as showing a measure of restrained good taste.
 
A

Addison Hart

Guest
Day 2, April 2nd, 1912

Tuesday, April the 2nd, 1912, was a calm, mild day in Belfast. That morning's weather conditions were expected to be much less problematic than yesterday's had been. The calm breezes felt in the early hours were a welcome alternative to the sudden winds that had so plagued the sea-trials of the R.M.S. Titanic. The trials and the voyage to Southampton, planned to begin on April 1st, had been delayed and re-scheduled due to a rather unfortunate spell of bad weather. However, the winds had cleared and this morning seemed as fine a day as ever for such an auspicious event. The salty smell of the sea air drifted into the docks with the early morning breeze as crowds of spectators assembled to watch the grand new ship in action alone for the very first time.

In the early hours of the morning, the Titanic's eight senior officers boarded the unfamiliar vessel. Senior Commander Edward John Smith, Royal Naval Reserve, was to act as the ship's first captain. Affectionately referred to as 'the Commodore' of the White Star Line, 'old EJ' was a venerable and beloved 62-year-old Staffordshire-born seaman who had lived most of his life on the water. He was known for his both his fine nautical abilities and for his good company. He was the old fashioned, respectable type of seaman who was almost never known to err. He knew his trade like the back of his hand, and had become the 'marble man', so to speak, of the White Star Line's roster of officers. In all of his years at sea, he had never been involved in a shipwreck or a disaster of any sort - save for one incident that could very easily have turned rather ugly indeed. While leaving Southampton's port in 1911 as captain of the R.M.S. Olympic, Titanic's elder sister ship, a warship - the H.M.S. Hawke - was dragged against the side of the great vessel. The warship accidentally rammed her with its formidable prow. Luckily, quick action had averted disaster. No lives had been lost and several in the sections of the ship that had been rammed had suffered only minor injuries. Because of this fortunate outcome, Smith's fine reputation as a captain was undamaged.

Seven lesser officers accompanied Captain Smith aboard. First among them was the superb Scottish seaman, William McMasters Murdoch, RNR, who would serve as Chief Officer. Secondly, there was First Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller, RNR, who had already lived an adventurous life in his own right. Thirdly, there was Second Officer David Blair. The junior officers were: Third Officer Herbert John Pitman, Fourth Officer Joseph Groves Boxhall, Fifth Officer Harold Godfrey Lowe (a Welshman), RNR, and Sixth Officer James Paul Moody. Also boarding that morning were 34 seamen and 79 engineers, trimmers, firemen, boilermen, etc. Also present were two young wireless telegraph officers from the Marconi firm, Chief Operator John Phillips and Junior Operator Harold Bride.

Finally, there were some sudden changes in store for the ship's officers, causing a good deal of confusion in the roster. Unfortunately for men like Murdoch, Lightoller, and Blair, but fortunately in the mind of the captain, Smith had brought along with him the trustworthy Henry Tingle Wilde, the former chief officer on the Olympic in all of Smith's voyages upon her. It was Smith's intention to have Wilde appointed the ship's new chief officer, and this was hastily arranged, despite a good deal of confusion in the process. Murdoch, in an action that must have disappointed him somewhat, was bumped down to the rank of first officer, and Lightoller down to second. The ranks of the junior officers remained the same, but this left the unfortunate Davey Blair without a bunk to rest his head. Consequently, he was left with no other choice but to sadly depart the ship and play no further role in the trip to Southampton or the maiden voyage that lay ahead. This evidently disappointed him and his fellow officers a good deal. It was also unfortunate due to the unforeseeable ramifications of the switch. Blair appeared to be the only man aboard with the knowledge of where the Titanic's single pair of binoculars was stored, and with his departure went that valuable piece of information.

Also present on the Titanic that morning were several of the men responsible for her existence. However, the dignitaries who were seemingly the most important in the public eye had not appeared. While her owner, the fantastically wealthy founder of International Mercantile Marine (I.M.M.) and famous trust-builder Junius Pierpont Morgan, was unable to be present at the trials (although he had watched the launch the year before), several dignitaries represented the firm’s higher echelon. The most important among them was the second in command of the White Star Line, Mr. Harold Sanderson, who was present in place of the company chairman and IMM officer, Mr. Joseph Bruce Ismay, who was absent due to private family matters. Also absent was Lord William James Pirrie of Harland & Wolff (the Belfast-based shipping firm that had constructed the Titanic), who was at his home in Belgravia recovering from a very severe case of pneumonia. It had quite unpleasantly left him constantly covered in towels, with his feet soaking in a basin of hot water. In his stead, however, he sent his nephew, Mr. Thomas Andrews Jr., the ship's designer and one of the most important figures at Harland & Wolff. His chief deputy, Mr. Edward Wilding, accompanied him.

The proceedings began very early that morning with an inspection of the ship by Board of Trade supervisor Francis T. Carruthers. Captain Smith and several other members of the crew accompanied Carruthers on his tour of the vessel, looking over every detail that occurred to him. As this was going on, Messrs. C.J. Smith & Co. of London sent several members of their firm aboard in order to adjust the ship's compasses as she entered the open water. All of these matters have now been seen to, the trials commenced at 6 o'clock a.m. with the arrival of the four tugs. The Herald was at her port bowlines, the Haskinson was at her port lines, the Herculaneum was at her starboard lines, and the Horbury was at her starboard bowlines. They pulled the hulking vessel along the River Lagan, through the Victoria Channel, and finally out into the Belfast Lough, supervised by the ship's veteran bo‘sun, an Australian by the name of Alfred 'Big Neck' Nichols, as well as bo'sun's mate Albert Haines, and his crew. One by one, deep inside the ship, Titanic's twenty immense boilers were lit. As the crowds of spectators lined up all along the channel, Titanic made her way into the Lough for her trials.

At noon, the tugs arrived with the ship in tow at a spot in the Lough about two miles off the coast of the small town of Carrickfergus. Along the coastline, crowds bustled hurriedly in order to catch a glimpse of the great vessel as she prepared to roar into life. At the lines, a flag signaling the fact that the pilot was aboard fluttered in the gentle noon breeze as the tugs released their hold on the ship and returned to the dock from whence they had come. It was at that moment that Titanic's three propellers ("triple screws") spun round through the water for the first time. A blue and white 'A' signal flag was run up, indicating that she was undergoing her sea-trials. On the bridge, Fourth Officer Boxhall thrust the engine room telegraph handle forward. In response, Titanic moved on her own for the very first time, gliding ever so smoothly through the calm waters of the Lough. These were her first steps. To complete the process of bringing her to life, three long blasts were sounded from the siren. Her voice had produced its first sounds.

As buoy tests were conducted above, the officers and officials retired to the grand First Class Dining Room on D-Deck in order to partake of a generous luncheon comprised of salmon, roast chicken, and sweetbreads. During the meal, the gentlemen compared notes, discussed points of the trials, asked one another technical questions, and generally concluded that the ship was running better than expected.

At about 2 o’clock, Titanic started making a series of runs across the Lough towards the Irish Sea and then back to her original position. The observers noted with pride that the vessel could be brought to go beyond 20 knots, and that she could be brought to a full halt in just over three minutes, which was an astounding rate for a ship of her immensity. At 6 o’clock p.m., Titanic headed back to the Lough from the Irish Sea at 18 knots, so as she could undergo her final inspection before she made her way to Southampton. Carruther's final experiment was the raising and lowering of the ship's giant anchors, which he saw performed several times over a period of some minutes. Satisfied by the results, he presented Andrews and Wilding with a certificate reading “Good for one year from today 2.4.12.”

At 8 o'clock in the evening, the engines were started up once again for the voyage to Southampton, where an empty berth was waiting. The ship carried a skeleton crew, Carruthers, Andrews, Sanderson, Wilding, Harland & Wolff's nine-strong 'Guarantee Group', and one regular 1st Class passenger, Mr. Wyckoff van der Hoef. And so, late that evening, the ship sailed away from its cradle, Belfast, for the last time, leaving for its new 'home' in Southampton. As darkness fell, the regular officer’s watches were held, and lookouts were posted. In the wireless room, the two operators tirelessly sent updates to Morgan and Ismay. In the darkness, Titanic rounded the Lizard, passed through the Irish Sea and St. George’s Channel, and headed past the coast of Cornwall.
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A

Addison Hart

Guest
Day 3, April 3rd, 1912

Wednesday, April 3rd, 1912, was a mild and chilly day for the south of England. Coming from across the Irish Sea, the 882 1/2 foot long White Star liner Titanic cut through the slightly choppy waves in the direction of the port city of Southampton. She made towards the city at an exhilarating pace from her berth in Belfast, where she had completed her sea-worthiness trials the day before. There lay approximately 570 miles between these two ports of call, and the ship was expected to reach her destination late that evening or very early on the morrow. All in all, things were proceeding very smoothly indeed.

At 2 o'clock a.m., the vessel entered a dense patch of fog, slowing the trip somewhat in the early hours. Indeed, this fog only dispersed at about 6 o'clock a.m., and by that time the officials were already beginning to take notes for the second day of their travel. At around 7 o'clock, they sat down with the ship's officers for a pleasant breakfast. The menu read as follows:

Fruit

Quaker Oats

Fillets of Whiting
Kippered Herrings

Calves’ Liver & Bacon
Grilled Ham or Grilled Sausage
Minced Chicken
Poached & Fried Eggs
Plain & Tomato Omelettes
Mashed & Sauté Potatoes

Cold Meat

Rolls or Scones
Marmalade
Strawberry Conserve
Watercress

At 10:30 a.m., she was approximately 150 miles east of Fastnet, and picking up speed over the course of the morning. By mid-day, she was moving at 23 1/4 knots, the fastest speed she would ever achieve. By this time, she had passed in succession Cornwall, Prawle Point, and St. Catherine's Point. At about thirty minutes past 12 o'clock p.m., she passed the green cliffs of Land's End. At this point, her two wireless operators, Messrs. Phillips and Bride, made contact with such distant locales as Teneriffe (2,000m miles away) and Port Said (3,000 miles).

As evening came, she arrived at her destination. Passing the Isle of Wight, she met with the Nab Light vessel, taking on Southampton's old and celebrated harbor pilot, Mr. George Bowyer. Well known to all officers bringing their ships into the port, Mr. Bowyer had a friendship with Captain E.J. Smith that had lasted for decades. He had also been present on the bridge of Olympic with the captain on the day of the Hawke incident, and it was his quick maneuvering that had spared the ship of serious damage.

As darkness fell, Titanic entered the Spithead with Bowyer aboard. Arriving in the aged city of Southampton at around 12 o'clock midnight, she was taken onward to her waiting berth in the White Star dock. As one day silently transformed into the next, she passed her own sister ship, the Olympic, heading out on the start of a voyage of her own.
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A

Addison Hart

Guest
Day 4, April 4th, 1912

Thursday, April the 4th, 1912, would prove to be a very important day for the R.M.S. Titanic. Two days before, she had, in a sense, conquered the narrow confines of the River Lagan as she successfully completed her sea trials. Now, in the midnight darkness, she slowly approached the port city of Southampton, via the Solent, for the final preparations in her very first Trans-Atlantic crossing. Exactly at that moment upon which April 3rd turned into April the 4th, Maundy Thursday - 12 o'clock midnight sharp - Titanic was heading straight through the waters in the approach to Southampton, lights ablaze in the darkness. Few spectators were present at such a late hour to witness her huge form emerge through the gloomy darkness and into the dock of Southampton, guided by the green and red buoy lights floating before her.

At her sides chugged the five Red Line tugs: Ajax, Hector, Hercules, Neptune, and Vulcan; each of these tiny vessels was guided from the Titanic by her veteran bo'sun, 'Big Neck' Nichols, with the assistance of his superb team of able seamen. Before her, Berth No. 44 sat empty, awaiting the great White Star Liner. Guided by the tugs and by the harbor pilot, Mr. George Bowyer, Titanic entered the process of being warped into the berth. This process had been completed by about 1:15 a.m., despite some trouble when the dockyard workers feared that they would not have enough space for the ship's immense bulk. Rectifying the situation was difficult. Oceanic and New York were berthed side-by-side in Berths 38 and 39, respectively, while across the water from Berth 44, the American Line ships Philadelphia and St. Louis sat tied together with the White Star vessel Majestic.

As the dawn finally came, large groups of curious onlookers came down to the quay to get a good look at this new ship Titanic, and there were none who came away unimpressed. The ship silently appeared in her berth with the gray light of dawn, having been towed in during the night and not at all visible until the morning hours.

The people of Southampton were not the only curious spectators that day. Many of the ships officers and crew took the afternoon to become somewhat more familiar with the vessel. David Blair, the former Second Officer, who had two days earlier received the disappointing news that he would not be making the trip, likewise took the opportunity to sneak a peak at the ship that he would not sail upon. "This is a marvelous ship," he wrote in a letter to his sister-in-law, "and I feel very disappointed I am not going to make the first voyage." The ship likewise impressed Sixth Officer James Paul Moody, noting that he was very pleased to have a room of his own — despite the fact that it was only “the size of a cupboard”. What impressed First Officer William Murdoch most of all seemed to be the ship’s lifeboats and their Wellin davits. Though he may well have taken note of the fact that the boats could only hold half of Titanic’s passenger (a fact pointed out earlier by both White Star official Alexander Carlisle and Board of Trade member Ernest Shackleton), he found the design of the davits very helpful. “I thought what a jolly fine idea they were, because with the old-fashioned davits it would require about a dozen men to lift her [the lifeboat], a dozen men at each end.”

Not everyone was so very impressed with the state of things, however. Fifth Officer Harold Lowe complained to a friend that he was “a stranger to everyone aboard.” Chief Officer Henry Wilde had a different problem altogether; he did not like this new ship at all. She was simply too terribly big.

A large amount of silverware and china was taken aboard the ship this day. There would be, in all, some 2,000 salt shakers, 4,500 breakfast plates, 3,000 tea cups, 5,500 ice cream plates, 12,000 dinner plates, 1,000 finger bowls, and 1,500 mustard bowls aboard, as well as hordes of other assorted pieces of cutlery, plates, and dishes. It seemed that the first items to be loaded aboard the doomed vessel were to be the crockery.
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Dec 2, 2000
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>>"This is a marvelous ship," he wrote in a letter to his sister-in-law, "and I feel very disappointed I am not going to make the first voyage." <<

I'll bet there was a slight revision in that opinion, say, on the morning of the 15th!

As to loading on the stores, that sure takes me back to the time leading up to deployment on just about every ship I've ever been on. Even with any number of labour saving implements and devices, it's an all hands evolution, and a time consuming one at that. I can just imagine what it was like on a ship in a time when the tools I took for granted didn't exist or were not in widespread use.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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I'm sorry I started this. I shall be thought pedantic and churlish with it! However....

"shipping city"

In addition to being a commercial port, Belfast was a shipbuilding town.

"shipping yards"

try 'shipbuilding yards' or par excellence, 'shipyard'.

"dockyard overseers"

Avoid the term 'dockyard': it has a specific military connotation away from merchant shipping operations.

"Although the Olympic (Titanic's older sister) was not as large...."

In three-dimensional terms she was identical.

"downcast dockyard overseers"

Avoid the term 'dockyard': it has a specific military connotation away from merchant shipping operations.

"...and the members of the so-called "Black Gang" (the engineers and boilermen..."

You do a lot of people a disservice here. The term connotes ratings employed in the stokehold, i.e., firemen and trimmers. The chief engineer for one would give you short shrift.

"He knew his trade like the back of his hand...."

'Profession' would be more appropriate.

"Because of this fortunate outcome, Smith's fine reputation as a captain was undamaged."

I seem to recall Olympic was subsequently found to be 100% to blame.

"wireless telegraph officers"

That middle word should be 'telegraphy'

"...the Belfast-based shipping firm that had constructed the Titanic"

You should use 'shipbuilding'; 'shipping' loosely connotes shipowners and strictly connotes consignors.

"One by one, deep inside the ship, Titanic's twenty immense boilers were lit. As the crowds of spectators lined up all along the channel, Titanic made her way into the Lough for her trials."

Lit a lot earlier than that I would have thought!

"At the lines, a flag signaling the fact that the pilot was aboard"

At what lines? Do you mean the signal halyards?

"Her voice had produced its first sounds."

There should have been a test of the gear, including a whistle test, at least before leaving the shipyard berth.

"...across the Lough"

'Down' the Lough, surely.

"...leaving for its new 'home' in Southampton."

The convention 'her' used throughout would be more sonerous and acceptable.

"...she met with the Nab Light vessel"

'Met'? Try 'came up on'.

"At her sides chugged the five Red Line tugs"

Chugged? Vessels with steam condensing plant do not 'chug'.

"....despite some trouble when the dockyard workers ..."

Avoid the term 'dockyard': it has a specific military connotation away from merchant shipping operations.

I make no comment as to style other than a suppressed wish not to cramp others'.

In the unlikely event you want me you'll find me cowering below the dodger ....

Noel
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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quote:

I seem to recall Olympic was subsequently found to be 100% to blame.
Here's the wording of the judgement brought down on the 19 December 1912 that dealt with culpability:

quote:

The collision was due soley to the faulty navigation of the pilot, and there is not a shadow of foundation for saying that negligance of any of the owner's servants caused it. The owners of the "Olympic" therefore succeed on the defence of compulsory pilotage.
So Bowyer copped the blame, not Smith...indeed, Smith was effectively officially cleared of even a 'shadow of a foundation' for a claim of negligance.​
 
A

Addison Hart

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Day 5, April 5th, 1912

Friday, April 5th, 1912, was Good Friday. Early that the morning, dock workers fixed hordes of assorted colored flags and pennants up upon Titanic’s rigging. Throughout the day, the flags fluttered in the breeze from the lines. There were two causes for this decoration. Firstly, it was to honor Holy Week, and secondly, to honor the people of Southampton - Titanic’s ‘hosts’. Today was the only day in her short history that Titanic was ever “dressed”, although several artists in the past have enjoyed picturing her with these flags and pennants gaudily waving from her lines as she leaves the Southampton dock on her maiden voyage.

“…The scene is now transported, gentles, to Southampton,” wrote the bard in Henry V. “…There is the playhouse now, there must you sit.” Southampton is located 78 miles southwest of London, in Hampshire. It was always recognized as being a perfect spot for a port. It is built at the converging points of the Rivers Test and Itchen, and is protected from severe sea-storms by the natural bulkhead provided by the ancient Isle of Wight, sitting in the waters nearby. There has been a settlement at Southampton since Britannia’s conquest by the unlikeliest emperor of them all, Claudius. From that point on, it gradually became one of the most important port cities in the British Isles, perhaps second only to Liverpool. The White Star Line did not have a dock of its own in this city until 1907, when they changed the outlet of their express passenger service from Liverpool (where White Star’s headquarters were located) to Southampton.

Due to the solemnities of Good Friday, the dock was, for the most part, deserted. There were to be no visitors on this holy day. April the 5th would also prove to be the first recruitment day in Southampton for the ship’s crew (though few men actually signed up until the following day). Much of the ship’s cargo was taken aboard the vessel in the early parts of the day as well. As night fell, the flags were taken down. It had been a relatively inactive day for the Titanic, and indeed for the whole dock in general, but tomorrow would be very different.
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Addison Hart

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Inger,

Thank you. This is what I thought.

Noel,

Thanks for the comments. Pedantic and churlish, yes, but a help all the same!

God bless,
Addison
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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Here's more characteristic pedantry and churlishness:

"Early that the morning, dock workers fixed hordes of assorted colored flags and pennants up upon Titanic’s rigging."

Dock workers?

The port installations at So'ton were built, maintained and manned by the Southern Railway Company whose staff would not service ships in that manner.

'Dressing ship' was the job of the ship's deck staff.

However, I would surmise that the deck crew which brought her over from Belfast had been engaged as 'runners' and would therefore have been paid off on arrival.

In which case the job would be assigned to the WSL local pool of labour or 'shore gang'.

The shore gang is necessarily an amorphous body of temporary workers - with a core of permanent staff - in all departments, dependant upon the prevailing intensity of operations.

In this particular case I would surmise it included many seagoing personnel who were going to sign on for the voyage anyway (I'm sure others will have the details).

"Firstly, it was to honor Holy Week...."

This may be a matter of record but is this correct? The English have never been that 'Holy'.

"The White Star Line did not have a dock of its own...."

"Berth" would be the appropriate term and par excellence, "appropriated berth" ! The dock installations, as I say, were provided by the Southern Railway Company.

What in USA parlance are loosely referred to as 'docks' are in UK parlance customarily differentiated into 'docks, berths, wharves, piers' etc.

How does that expression go? - 'never start something you can't finish'.

Still below the dodger...

Noel
 

Tony Sheils

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Jan 6, 2001
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Addison

Just to let you know how much I for one am enjoying your Chronology postings. You may not get every detail absolutely correct but I appreciate your efforts and your style suits me.

I do not regard myself as a believing christian these days, but Holy Week still exists for me - and I'm an Englishman!

I look forward to your next instalment.

Tony
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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Addison, there's a lovely phrase in one of the letters an officer sent from Southampton...a description of how the ship was dressed. I'll have to send it to you privately when I have a moment - I think you'd enjoy it.
 

Andrew Fanner

Member
Nov 5, 2003
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Well, if we are playing pedant...:)

In 1912 the Southampton Docks were owned and operated by the London and South Western Railway, not the SR which came into being with the Grouping of 1923. The LSWR improved the existing (now Old) docks but it was the SR who really went to town and had the New Docks built.
 
A

Addison Hart

Guest
I would enjoy that greatly, thank you, Inger.

And I do appreciate Noel's comments. They shall help, no doubt, to make next year's batch all the more accurate.

God bless,
Addison
 
A

Addison Hart

Guest
Day 6, April 6th, 1912

Saturday, April the 6th, 1912, was, of course, Holy Saturday. For Titanic, this would be a much more active day than the previous had been. It was likewise expected to be a far more demanding day than the next would be. Yesterday had been a day of rest, but the activity around the ship's berth would start early that morning when a good deal of the ship's cargo was brought aboard. In all, there were 11,524 individual pieces of cargo brought into the hold over the course of the day - almost 500 tons worth of property in all.

As one toiling group of workers accomplished this task, another set to work scrambling about the harbor in the process of locating and loading as much coal as could be found into the Titanic's immense boiler rooms. Various shipping and coaling ports were scoured in search of available amounts of the stuff, and the process of finding and lugging the coal over to Berth 44, where the ship lay warped, lasted the entire twenty-four hour span of the day. As this was being done, naturally enough, certain portions of the vessel were glazed with a fine layer of black soot. Once the task of lugging the coal in had been completed, squads of cleaners were sent into action to cleanse the vessel of this unsightly dark trail.

This was also the recruitment day for the majority of Titanic's crew. A bevy of unemployed seaman packed into the White Star's hiring halls, all of them eager to add their names in the ledgers for a spot on the new ship on her maiden voyage. From the British Seafarer's Union came 228 men; another 100 men signed on from the National Sailor's Union and the Firemen's Union alone. It was not only the reputation of the new ship that brought so many recruits, however. Indeed, the reason for such large numbers was due primarily to the fact that many of these men had been unemployed for several months thanks to the national coal strike. The prospective crewmen were eager to get back to work now that the coal strike had been officially ended earlier that morning, due in part to the efforts of Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith.

This friction between labor and capital had begun on January 12th, 1912, when the coal miners of Britain had voted overwhelming to go on strike. Their demands were for minimum wages instead of the pittance that they had been receiving as of late. And so, as they marched about in their towns, singing about "those dark satanic mills", and waiting for those exceptionally parsimonious companies to pay up, coal grew scarcer by the day. Despite Prime Minister Asquith's attempts to secure peaceful negotiation, the strike officially got underway by late February, urged on by socialist political leaders such as Ben Tillet (who would later cause grief to the White Star over the horrendous conditions suffered by the 3rd Class passengers on the night of the disaster). As expected, the results were problematic for the government and the shipping companies alike.

Despite the settlement on the 6th, large amounts of coal would be scarce in Southampton until about a week later. The White Star Line announced that the two Olympic class vessels which would be sailing this week, Olympic and Titanic, would have their usual speed of 23 knots reduced to 20 in order to conserve their coal.

And so, with the strikes now officially ended, the seamen scrambled into the hiring halls to sign away. They understandably would have signed on for any available ship, but many were especially keen on serving aboard Titanic for her maiden voyage. Her reputation was attractive enough, but the prospect of sailing under her captain, the beloved EJ, was certainly what drew many to the halls that day. The majority of the crewmembers were from Southampton, but there were also men from London, Liverpool, Yarmouth, Belfast, and Queenstown.

Many high-ranking crewmembers were added to the ship's roster today as well. Dr. Edward J. Simpson would serve as Assistant Surgeon aboard the ship, working under the watchful eye of 62-year-old Chief Surgeon William Francis Norman O'Loughlin, a man every bit as beloved by passengers and crew as Captain Smith himself. A Londoner, Mr. Reginald Leonard Barker, signed on as Titanic's purser, to be paid the sum of 15 pounds per month. He would be demoted to Assistant Purser when yet another popular officer of the White Star, Mr. Hugh Walter McElroy, was taken aboard as Chief Purser. White Star had also transferred the amiable Mr. Andrew J. Latimer from Olympic, to be Titanic's Chief Steward. It seemed that the White Star Line was, in a sense, assembling an ‘all-star cast’ for the Titanic’s high-ranking officers aboard. The cream of the White Star was to be present; this would truly be a voyage to remember.
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Noel F. Jones

Member
May 14, 2002
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Dear Andrew,

"In 1912 the Southampton Docks were owned and operated by the London and South Western Railway, not the SR which came into being with the Grouping of 1923. The LSWR improved the existing (now Old) docks but it was the SR who really went to town and had the New Docks built."

Quite. I knew I was exposing myself (should I re-phrase that?) in that particular but decided at the time that the interests of brevity should prevail over those of pedantry.

Dear Addison,

Thank you for your unwarranted forbearance!

"brought into the hold over the course of the day - almost 500 tons worth of property in all."

Holds (plural). All ocean going cargo carriers - and transatlantic liners were no exception - had multiple cargo compartments. I think single holds went out with the clipper ships. And I don't have the figures before me but at 500 tons I would say her deadweight capacity was considerably undersubscribed (I'm not trying to make work for you here, just pointing out a possible error).

"....Berth 44, where the ship lay warped."

Discounting any invoking of the past tense of the verb 'to warp' (to move a ship about a harbour by means of lines or "warps" and deck machinery and/or land-based winches) your use of the term gives me the impression the poor vessel was hogged, sagged or worse! I would suggest substituting 'moored' or 'lying'.

Anyway, as I might be looking like a patronising webtermagant I think I'd better leave you to it.

As I've said elsewhere, the marine transport infrastructure is one of the most complex entities ever devised by man, over many centuries moreover, and its terminologies are a veritable minefield for the unwary.

I wish you success with your endeavours.

Noel
 

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